Tuned In

Ted Wells' pre-trial playlist

Published in 2006 New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine

By Amy White on July 1, 2006


As the lyrics snake through the sleek wires of Theodore V. Wells Jr.’s iPod, he hypnotically nods to the rhythm. “Right before opening statements, I listen to music like athletes do before the big game,” he says. “My favorite pre-trial song is The Payback. It really gets me in the mood to try a case.” Wells, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, says his play list includes artists like rapper Kanye West. The 56-year-old attorney gets loose to the sharp-tongued hip-hop star, but in the courtroom he gets down to business. “I always knew I would be a lawyer. If you look in my high school yearbook, it says ‘I want to go to college, major in economics and become a lawyer,’ which is what I did.”

Wells says the social-reform brew of the ’50s produced for him a career-defining case: Brown v. Board of Education. “The case decision came out in May of 1954 and I started kindergarten in September of 1955.”

His mentor is Judge Robert Carter, who argued the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. “He is a close personal friend of mine who is 89 and still a sitting federal judge,” Wells says. Much like Carter, Wells is too tenacious to slow down his impressive white-collar criminal defense practice. Would-be adversaries take heed: “… you gotta get ready for the big payback. That’s where I am, the big payback … .”

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